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so long

Patrick Leahy, longest-serving senator, announces retirement: 'It's time to come home'

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is ready to "pass the torch." 

The Democratic senator from Vermont and president pro tempore of the Senate announced Monday he won't run for re-election. Leahy has served in the Senate since 1975 and is the longest-serving sitting senator, Axios notes. He's also the fourth longest-serving senator in U.S. history, per CNN, and is third in the presidential line of succession

"It is time to put down the gavel," Leahy said. "It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter, who will carry on this work for our great state. It's time to come home." 

The announcement comes after Politico previously reported that Leahy was "leaning toward" running for another term in 2022 and told colleagues he believed he's the "the only Democrat that can win" his seat. Leahy was hospitalized earlier this year after "not feeling well." 

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) is seen as the most likely successor after Leahy's retirement, the Post notes, and in his speech, Leahy praised Welch as "remarkable." Welch reacted to the announcement by calling this a "historic and bittersweet day," but he didn't reveal whether he will run for the seat.